During the reading of some of my Sociological articles (most specifically those authored by Emile Durkheim), I began thinking of a moral quandary.  What is a valid reason (as atheists) to prevent suicide?

Christians believe in some type of hell or another; thus eternal torture.  Pagans believe in reincarnation; thus the return to the state the suicidal is attempting to leave.

What compelling reason do Atheists give to the suicidal to prevent this act?  Do we believe there is nothing to prevent it? Is it considered o.k. to do it?  Do we offer the suicidal the weapon of choice and politely say, “What’s stopping you?”

As a budding psychologist/ sociologist, and as a member of society, I am truly curious.

Please, don’t call the local authorities or put me on 24 hour watch- this is purely educational.  I have no intention or desire to take my own life.

In advance: thank you for your input.

 

Views: 626

Comment by Robert Karp on August 29, 2011 at 4:39pm

Sorry Kris.

 

Are you talking about obligating someone to live based on another's theological views, if so then we are in agreement, yes, it is much more selfish to do so.

Comment by kris feenstra on August 29, 2011 at 4:40pm

I mean by placing moral, or even legal pressure on others to live based predominately on one's own self-interest.

Comment by Gabriela Menicucci on August 29, 2011 at 4:42pm

Some people commit suicide without ever hinting it, they just do it. I think is impossible to force people to do what you want

Comment by Robert Karp on August 29, 2011 at 4:49pm

I have no self-interest by placing moral pressure on someone to live.  If the person's death would affect me or my family directly, then I would have self interest but I still do not think that trumps the selfishness of the act itself.  

Then again, maybe I'm getting confused. This conversation is almost above my pay-grade ;-) 

Comment by kris feenstra on August 29, 2011 at 5:01pm

If the person's death would affect me or my family directly, then I would have self interest but I still do not think that trumps the selfishness of the act itself.

 

Do you mean to say that their selfishness in suicide outdoes your own considerations?  Why should they put your needs for their life before their own?  The person who bears the largest responsibility for your needs is you, not them.  I highly doubt they are making the decision frivolously.  Their need must be very dire, even if misguided.

 

Personally, I do give different consideration when dependants such as children are involved, but that's not an intrinsic factor in suicide.

Comment by kris feenstra on August 29, 2011 at 5:32pm

"Is it not better to live on with hope that your life will get better someday?"

 

Personally, I would agree at this point in my life, and think that's a perfectly rational stance, but there are a lot of variations on the conditions in which people find themselves.  As someone who went through an extended period of depression, I understand that the oppressive, crippling suffering someone can experience while appearing outwardly normal.  I understand how difficult it becomes to put certain things into proper perspective, and to act rationally or objectively.  I also understand that the depths of depression and despair can sink much much lower than what I experienced.  When someone opts for suicide under those conditions, I don't necessarily think it's the best solution, but I am sympathetic to why they might have chosen it, and can't bring myself to say it's wrong.

Comment by Unseen on August 29, 2011 at 6:42pm

To take a person's control over their own life out of their hands involves the naked imposition of the state's will over an individual's right of self-determination. It's no different from forbidding abortion. If we are opposed to the state controlling a woman's right to control her body, it seems to me by the same logic we should either take a hands-off approach or provide clean and pleasant facilities so that someone doesn't have to leave a mess behind (shotgun in mouth, jumping off the 20th floor, slitting one's wrists, etc.). The only exception might be someone who is clearly insane, though their suicidal tendency should not be considered as the sole determinant of their sanity.

Comment by James on August 29, 2011 at 9:25pm

Personally, I'd say that life, no matter how bad you think it may be, is reason enough to prevent suicide. In the case of a believer, there is still the idea of something after death. Be it good or bad, it's still something. But we have but one life to live. It is short and precious, and when it's done, that's it. Eternal non-existence. So even if life is bad and you think that suicide is the answer, I'd say that that life is still better than being permanently erased. Life is a gift that so many never get to experience properly, if at all. To piss it all away because things are tough seems very selfish and ungratefully to me. We awe it to those potential people that were never born to make the most of our lives as we can. Maybe things are tough now, but they can (and often do) get better. Then there are those close to you to consider. Sure, you may only be ending your life, but that act will profoundly touch the lives of everyone you now as well. So no, I don't oppose suicide on the grounds of religious consequence/morals, but in the name of life itself.

 

Cheers!

Comment by Unseen on August 29, 2011 at 9:39pm

I guess the question is, though, is it ever right to intervene in someone else's suicide and impose one's will on them. I'm not talking about someone who is clearly insane, but someone who has considered everything by their own lights and decided to end it all. If it comes down to saving their life by strapping them to a bed, is life so important that one should go that far to preserve it in someone who doesn't want it?

Comment by kris feenstra on August 29, 2011 at 10:03pm

"We owe it to those potential people that were never born to make the most of our lives as we can."

 

I don't owe them a damn thing.  it's not like they care one way or the other anyway.

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